History of the Hamlet of Lyalta

From Along the Fireguard Trail: A History of Lyalta-Ardenode-Dalroy Districts by Lyalta, Ardenode, Dalroy Historical Society © 1979

The hamlet of Lyalta is situated on the SW 8-25-26-W4th, in an agricultural area of Alberta. It is on the Drumheller branch of the Canadian National Railway, 26 miles northeast of Calgary. The original charter for construction of the line was granted to the Alberta Midland Railway; the line became part of the Canadian Northern Railways prior to completion and later was known as Canadian National Railways. The railway line through Lyalta, which at the time was called "Lyall" was open for traffic on February 12, 1914. After the railway was in operation Mr. George Rehder opened a small store at "Lyall", with Mr. A. Harry Parsons as the store-keeper and post-master. He was followed later by Andy Narroway; this venture failed and the building was moved to Dalroy before 1919.

The name Lyalta came from a compound of Lyall and Alberta, suggested by Mr. A. Harry Parsons of Lyall Trading Company. It appears there already was a town by the name of "Lyall" in Alberta. Lyall, a map shows, was surveyed as a future townsite to include a bank and stores.

In 1919 Mr. Barney Barnett was station agent; and C.N. express, passenger and freight service provided a convenient way of travel and shipment of farm produce.

The section foreman was Isaac K. Peterson, and Margaret Peterson was acting post-mistress. The first post office was in the station.

In 1923, a small elevator was built by Seymour and Company and it was in use for two years. The grain buyer was Orlando Myers. He was also appointed postmaster with the post office being located in the elevator office. The Seymour Elevator was replaced (on the same site) by the Alberta Pacific Grain Company elevator with William Pratt as grain buyer. Around 1925 Mr. Walter Shaw and Mr. J Shock built a store at Lyalta. It was owned by Mr. Shaw, who was the store-keeper and post-master until 1928.

Mr. and Mrs. Angus Urquhart took over the business from Walter Shaw and remained until 1932. He was also International Harvester Co. agent and installed a weigh scale just west of the store. This scale was used by some farmers when they loaded their grain onton railway cars by hand. Otherwise, the elevator scale was used.

During the depression when Mr. Urquhart was store-keeper, a man entered the store and demanded money. He carried a gun and slightly injured Mr. Urquhart on the arm, before leaving"empty handed". One witness to this incident was Miss Scott, a young girl from near Dalroy, who was in the store at the time.

A few people may still remember the trail derailment east of Lyalta , about one quarter of a mile from the L. Fortems farm. Another item of interest at this time was a robbery which took place on a local train.

Mr. and Mrs. W. Gorman and family came to live in the Station House in the early 1930's. He was Tower man at the C.N.R.-C.P.R. Diamond, West of Lyalta. He owned the original hall built in Lyalta, which he later sold to the Lyalta Community Club.

After Urquarts left, Mr. and Mrs. Cyriel DeNeve had the store and post office until 1939. He also had the John Deere and Cockshutt Machine Agencies.

Mr. and Mrs. George Thurston had the business in 1939, then Roy and Katie Novak took over for a short period.

Harold and May Payne came in 1945 and remained until 1962, a period of 17 years. Stan and Blanche Finders bought the store in 1962 - they moved the original store and replaced it with a new cement block building which included living quarters.

Fred and Marlene Cawthorpe moved out to the store at Lyalta in 1970. Mr. Pete Torgrimson purchased the business in April 1974, and Jerry and Phyllis Doyle ran the store until March 1975. Jean Torgrimson took over the store until July 1, 1975, and Raymond and Carol Torgrimson ran the store until August 1977. Jean Torgrimson returned to the business and it was then sold on November 1, 1977, to Marvin and Beverly Sobiecki who are the present owners.

Many hamlets in Alberta have lost their post office, we consider ourselves fortunate to still have this service. Express and passenger service on the C.N.R. was discontinued in the spring of 1964, and the station house has been demolished. There are two elevators, now owned by the Alberta Wheat Pool, a store with a post office, a Community Hall, and four homes.

Click here to see Kevin Connolly's picture of the wooden Lyalta elevator that was demolished sometime in the 1990's.




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